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ARCHIVES 10-7-04 through 6-14-07

Republican and AT&T dirty deeds; 2013 AD wonders; singularities; US war with Iran; Israel; hate for America; anime; abortion; American dream; and more

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This page last updated on or about late 8-18-07

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Back to the LATEST Newz&Viewz...

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6-14-07: A whopper of a net censorship and citizen assault plan by AT&T

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5-29-07: They did WHAT!?! The dirty deeds of Republicans get little attention in the mainstream media-- partly because they're often so heinous and unbelievable

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5-26-07: Some every day wonders you can expect from 2013 AD

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5-20-07: America's long-time preference to big sticks over universal healthcare, free college, and peace and prosperity for all

It sure is tough to argue with this (note this link might not be 'safe for work').

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4-28-07: Personal Singularities: One man's list of Herculean efforts and feats (or, why I'm so very tired! Ha, ha)

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4-24-07: Site cameo and legend services have finally gone live!

Now it's possible to insert yourself into certain of the stories on-site, as well as exploit suitably themed pages of mine to direct extra traffic to your own.

The pages related to all this include:

Make a name for yourself online!

Your future as legend begins here!

Story character cameo choices, Catalog of leads for supplemental story cameo characters, objects, projects, missions, etc., and Catalog of legend-building options represent the new choices available for web site visitors who want to raise their own profile online in novel new ways.

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4-11-07: Why should the rich want to help the less fortunate? Especially poor Americans, who are almost certainly already better off than the poor in developing countries.

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10-23-06: I voted against Republicans across-the-board today

I voted early. Unfortunately, I think a lot of Republicans are hiding behind Independent party classifications on the ballot this year. So you may have to do some homework before your own vote to weed out such characters.

In 2004 I also voted against all Republicans, but got out-voted. And look at the awful crap the Republicans did since then. In past weeks alone they've stripped American citizens of Habeas Corpus: a right I believe we possessed even under England's King George while we were still British colonies.

But I guess today's Americans simply aren't made of the same stuff as yesterday's. We're letting weasel politicians rob us of our freedoms at will. I'm amazed that Americans voted Bush back in in 2004, and I'm amazed that the Republicans themselves in Congress and the Senate haven't instigated impeachment proceedings against both Bush and Cheney since. I never imagined the Republican party would betray America so badly as they have the past six years. At least the Democrats have an excuse for not impeaching Bush: they can't. There's not enough of them in office.

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10-16-06: You can't confuse a vegetable

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9-28-06: What happens if Bush goes to war with Iran, but Iran doesn't just sit in its box to take it like he expects?

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9-22-06: Can anyone find a case of President Bush telling the truth which doesn't involve admitting previous lies...?

Can anyone find a case of President Bush telling the truth which doesn't involve admitting previous lies, or quoting someone else, or stating a mundane fact from something like an almanac? And stuff like catching him admitting he's hungry or thirsty or sleepy doesn't count. I mean truth in one of his speeches about policies, and his reasons for doing something. And what the consequences of his actions will be for others. Truth in matters like that.

I'm just wondering. I mean, surely he's told the truth purely by accident a few times somewhere! As in how a broken clock tells the correct time twice a day. Or perhaps you'd just have to go far enough back in time to find a truth spilling from his lips...like ten or fifteen years maybe.

Anyway, let me know if you find one! And I mean something that can be verified! (and no, Fox news is not a credible reference source) You can find my email address on this page.

Of course, I do admit Bush has done everything in his power to make it difficult to find the truth in regards to his actions. Since he's been busy stamping "top-secret" on virtually everything since he came into office. So we really have almost no idea of what he's actually doing behind the curtain.

So even if you do manage to find something he said that appears to be the truth today, we might find out different thirty years from now (the government keeps secrets for ridiculously long times: I believe we still have secrets from Abe Lincoln's time, today).

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9-22-06: The dire fate of Israel

After being defeated in Lebanon, Israel is apparently taking out its frustration on the people of Gaza.

-- 'Gaza is a jail. Nobody is allowed to leave. We are all starving now' By Patrick Cockburn in Gaza; 08 September 2006 ["http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article1372026.ece"]

Israel seems to have taken leave of its senses. Each year that passes allows better weapons to pass into the hands of their enemies, and Israel's small size real estate-wise makes it especially vulnerable to such trends. Just one plane load of well-placed nukes would wipe it off the face of the Earth. But who needs nukes when you've got George Bush using the full power of his office to destroy the Jewish nation?

Israel should have made a just peace with their neighbors and the Palestinians when they enjoyed a position of maximum strength-- or in other words, prior to the Bush Administration coming in and ruining their chances, perhaps forever-- by giving the Israeli government virtually a blank check, policy-wise. What happens to most individuals when they suddenly get everything they could want? This scenario mainly occurs to a small number of musicians and film and sports stars, and large lottery winners. The ultimate consequences often involve a shattered life, where they end up worse off than before.

Bush put Israel into just such a predicament, by letting them dictate what America did during his term. And Israel promptly hung itself with all that fresh new rope.

If the US had instead gone the other way and pressured Israel more to make peace (we do prop up the state to the tune of billions of dollars annually), the tiny nation would at least have had a chance to survive another decade or two.

A well-planned and supported peace would have nurtured growing prosperity even for Israel's opponents, thereby building connections between the two parties which would have served to stablize and better secure the entire region. And vastly reduce the support for terrorism.

But that chance seems to be no more.

Now, with their fortunes tied to the rapidly shrinking stature of the USA, Israel is entering a period of steady weakening, relative to those around them. Their best hopes for survival may have passed.

If I were an Israeli, I would be getting the hell out of there. Israel has royally screwed itself over. And according to various accounts I've seen, they were constantly encouraged to do all this by the Bush Administration, which also shared some of their 'secret' intelligence information with them to aid the effort.

Of course, since there's ample evidence the Bush Administration throws away any intel they don't like, and just plain makes some up if they can't get any which agrees with their point of view (the Iraq war being merely one example), it's astonishing the Israeli government went along with this bone-headed scheme.

The only question left now is: How long will it be before the nation of Israel only exists in the bible and history books again?

For it appears the way Bush has set things up, the only way Israelis could stay in Israel and live beyond the coming debacle, would be to toil as slaves for the Palestinians for a few generations.

Any Israelis who wish to stay in Israel to face its end better hope their enemies will be more merciful to the Israelis than the Israelis (and Americans) have been to them.

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9-19-06: The hard truth: American citizens face more risk of being killed by their own government than by all the official terrorist organizations worldwide combined

And this is true even if you ignore the deaths stemming from wars declared for fun by the President, or our own military experimenting on our own soldiers and citizens, or the deaths among our children and elderly caused by government policies meant to hide corruption and theft, or subsidize corporations by shifting their business risks to individual citizens...and so on and so forth.

-- One Million Ways to Die By Ryan Singel; Sep, 11, 2006

-- Air Force chief: Test weapons on testy U.S. mobs; AP; September 12, 2006

Many nations worldwide have conducted a large number of open-air nuclear weapons tests since WWII. The fall out from all these tests has been sickening and killing civilians worldwide ever since by way of increased cancers and other ills. One study focusing only on the public health effects of tests conducted by the US and a few other nations between 1951 and 1963 (and totally ignoring health effects on the workforces engaged in mining radioactives or building the weapons, or people living close to weapons factories), showed that virtually anyone who's lived in the US since 1951 has been exposed to radioactive fallout in varying amounts. 15,000 US citizens have died as one result, and at minimum another 80,000 will likely contract cancer from the effects in years to come. Some of the fallout from tests which took place decades ago continues to circle the globe.

The study did not consider the effects of US (and other nations) testing which continued on between 1963 and late 1993.

Circa 2002 US leadership was showing interest in starting nuclear weapons testing anew in the future, regardless of its effects on the health of Americans and other peoples.

-- Testing has killed thousands, a new study shows ["http://www.inthesetimes.com/issue/26/12/news2.shtml"] By Jeffrey St. Clair; April 12, 2002; The Institute for Public Affairs, citing a report from the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"A panel of experts on Tuesday affirmed a report that said nuclear fallout from atmospheric atomic bomb tests reached virtually every part of the United States, causing at least 11,000 cancer cases over 50 years."

-- Cancer Risk Report Did Good Job, U.S. Panel Says ["http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=570&ncid=753&e=9&u=/nm/20030211/sc_nm/health_cancer_nukes_dc"] By Maggie Fox; Feb 12, 2003; Reuters

The major causes of cancer (well over 50%) stem from exposure to harmful elements of the environment-- not from genetic causes.

-- Nurture Not Nature Main Cause of Cancer - Report By Gene Emery, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories, July 13, 2000

-- Two-thirds of U.S. population has increased cancer risk due to pollution ["http://www.canada.com/health/fromthewires/story.html?id={B073AB4C-9DAC-4301-B5C6-DE9ED7070E82}"]

Pollution doesn't even have to exist in the environment during your own lifetime to damage you-- you could end up sick or injured due to the pollution your forebears endured.

-- Air Pollution Damages Across Generations - Study By Maggie Fox, Yahoo! News/Reuters; Dec 09, 2002

-- Nuclear weapons and pollution linked to 65 million deaths ["http://news.independent.co.uk/world/environment/story.jsp?story=374164"] By Paul Waugh; 31 January 2003; Independent

-- Death By Slow Burn - How America Nukes Its Own Troops What 'Support Our Troops' Really Means ["http://www.sierratimes.com/03/05/02/article_io.htm"] By Amy Worthington - The Idaho Observer; 05.2.03

-- Secret exposure: U.S. tested chemical weapons on own citizens ["http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?s=1250476"] by KEVIN OGLE; April 25, 2003; WorldNow and KFOR-TV (["http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=1250476&nav=6uy6FSjy"] may be a second link to the same item)

-- Soldiers exposed in 109 chemical tests, Pentagon says ["http://www.miami.com/mld/miami/news/nation/3854989.htm"]

-- Defense tests of chemical weapons may have harmed sailors, subjects ["http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/3469303.htm"] By David Goldstein; Knight Ridder Newspapers; Jun. 16, 2002

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9-19-06: An astounding compilation of historical events showing why many hate America today

Why is the USA so frequently the victim of resentment around the world?

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9-6-06: My personal view regarding abortion

I figure being an unwanted child and/or possibly physically or mentally impaired for a lifetime (the main reasons for abortions, so far as I am aware) is likely much more torturous than dying before birth. This is a harsh world for most, after all. Even for able-bodied folks with all their mental faculties, and parents who wanted them.

-- More die from suicide than wars, murders: experts ["http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060908/hl_nm/suicide_un_dc;_ylt=AuxqvBb.H8M5wrfqTfL08vEDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTBhZDhxNDFzBHNlYwNtZW5ld3M-"] By Matthew Verrinder; Sep 8, 2006; Reuters

To my mind the only justifiable way to ban abortion is if truly enormous efforts were taken at the same time to insure ALL kids, wanted or not, had a decent shot in life after birth. We're nowhere near that status today. Even in the most technologically advanced nations on Earth. Partly because we simply don't have the medical means to fix some things no matter how much money we spent, and partly because the majority of us believe rich kids deserve better lives than poor kids (That's what Americans have voted for time and time again, folks! Face up to it! Me and a few others voted the other way, but lost).

Heck, the first step in putting together such a truly comprehensive and just anti-abortion policy as mentioned above would probably have to be real net tax increases of staggering proportions on the rich (to work out to 70-90% confiscation rates on all the rich's various income/profit types and existing capital). Not just in America, but worldwide (otherwise they'd just move to avoid the taxes). This would be the very opposite of the tax agenda today's conservatives push: of the rich paying less than anyone else, but enjoying by far the biggest share of government services and support across-the-board.

Another vitally important step would involve scaling back military expenditures to levels maybe not seen in a hundred years or longer-- at the very least. For it would take such massive funding to make even a minimally reasonable effort at guaranteeing all new borns a decent chance at reasonable mental and physical health and fair opportunities in this life.

And yes, I purposely left out the word happiness above. For nowhere in my wildest imagination can I picture a government guaranteeing anyone a shot at that.

If we ever did undertake such an ambitious stand, I believe we'd all be surprised by how much the rest of us benefited as well.

But ignoring all the above, and simply banning abortions with no thought of the extra multitudes of crippled or unwanted children the action will bring into the world, will only make for more suffering among children-- not less. Anybody can figure this out if they take a moment to consider the issue. So it makes you wonder what the true aims are of anti-abortion leaders, since it's obviously not the welfare of the children. Are they simply power-hungry? Attracted by the influence they gain over those who don't know or care enough to dig deeper into the matter, with simplistic calls to 'protect babies'? Or are they just sadists, who secretly get their kicks from thinking of all the suffering children in the world, and how they (the anti-abortionists) are adding to that number: piling on ever more misery and pain atop the most helpless human beings among us?

Purposely forcing by law unwanted and possibly permanently impaired children into this world-- and then abandoning them immediately after birth to fend for themselves in what for many much more fortunate folks is near-constant hardship-- is not only mean-spirited, but downright inhumane.

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7-3-06: A new page on the death of liberty in America: how we surrendered without a fight

They own you -- and all your property too: How Americans meekly surrendered to fear and intimidation to give up their freedom and property rights at the dawn of the 21st century.

I use the past tense because it's already happened. Now we're simply waiting for our masters to collect.

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2-25-06: A clear example of how humanity itself might end?

The main weapons systems of male deer consist of their antlers. Impressive racks of often sharp and strong spear points, sprouting from their heads. It's my understanding they use these much like human males do their own levers of death and destruction-- to intimidate others, and fight over females or territory (classic power struggles).

In this case two deer literally locked horns while fighting near an icy pond. They stumbled onto the pond, the ice gave way beneath them, and they both drowned, as they grappled like Captain Ahab and the white whale in Moby Dick with one another to the bitter end.

Such an ending may be the most likely for technological civilizations. That is, two or more parties simply cannot make peace with one another, and everyone ends up dying over it. Sure, sometimes the endings might be slow, and sometimes they might be fast. But both are dead ends.

If we don't begin steering ourselves away from our tendency to use weapons or military force to solve our problems, our weapons/militaries themselves will be our end. Just as they were for these two deer.

-- Deer Die After Antlers Lock During Combat ["http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060225/ap_on_sc/locked_antlers;_ylt=AktuZtVR_Fnw9TLI1htuYGEDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl"]; Feb 24, 2006; Associated Press; news.yahoo.com

To see more on how civilizations like ours may tend to go extinct (usually before our own equivalent of 2500 AD), check out The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy.

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2-13-06: Anime review: Read or Die the TV series

ROD the TV series is absolutely one of my own personal favorites. Easily in my own top ten anime series of all time. The original pilot or film of same blew my socks off. And was maybe even a little better than the TV series-- but hey! A feature film should be better than the TV version! But by golly the film has some awful tough competition from its TV progeny.

I write this review after having seen both the film and almost all the TV series episodes. I regretfully missed maybe three of the final episodes, and so much of the final climax of the series, due to hospitalizations of family members. And the TV network showing them didn't rerun those episodes but just maybe once or twice-- much less frequently than they did all the previous shows. So I missed my chance as of early 2006. But I did get to see the very last episode I believe, and so have some inkling of what I missed.

Basically the concept behind ROD is a near future world where magic and technology co-exist-- or else the magic is some form of super-advanced technology mixed in with something like specialized telekinesis on the part of certain characters. The exact definitions are fuzzy. But there's some folks who can cause bits of paper to do amazing things, as if they (the pieces of paper) were flocks of living birds or swarms of insects, or single great beasts, or suddenly formed solid objects. The choregraphy of such paper in action is at times breath-taking.

The main female heroes are heartbreakingly well rendered, both artistically and in terms of character development. You'll love and root for them all.

If you're already an anime fan, ROD the TV series, and ROD the film are both must-sees.

If you're thinking about renting your very first anime, you could do lots worse than checking out these! I recommend seeing the movie first-- then watching the TV series. I guess I should caution you that it takes the series quite a long time to tie up various loose ends from the film. But if you're like me, you may enjoy the whole thing so much you get to where you don't care if they ever come to a final conclusion.

Indeed, I don't like the idea that there may never be any more episodes or films made incorporating these ideas and characters.

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2-12-06: Anime review: Neon Genesis Evangelion

I believe I've seen at least a dozen or more episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, an anime TV series. To mark where I am in viewing, I believe the fourth giant robot to defend Earth is about to be put into action in the plot. The "fourth child" has just been identified.

And no, NGEvangelion isn't just another giant robot show. Far from it. You'll see what I mean after you view a couple episodes.

And for the record, I personally despise any anime with the word "Gundam" in the title, and will usually just shake my head and switch off anything which smacks of "just another Japanese giant robot cartoon". For there truly are way too many of them.

NGEvangelion seems to be one of the very best anime series out there. In some ways rivaling Ghost in the Shell in apparent background research and preparation, while at the same time kicking Ghost in the Shell's ass when it comes to pure entertainment and sex appeal.

No, NGEvangelion doesn't match the overall quality of Ghost in the Shell's artwork-- though it often comes awful close in regards to the mechanical-related imagery on the show.

NGE does incorporate some of the unfortunate Japanese love for over-the-top annoying personality traits in some of the characters. But usually your dose of that is limited to tolerable levels.

While I'd rank Read or Die the TV series above NGEvangelion in pure entertainment value, the difference may be small. Where ROD gains an edge may be mostly in terms of its character development. NGEvangelion is excellent, and frequently surprising; a top notch anime series.

In my own estimation, on average there's more pure entertainment in a single NGEvangelion episode than maybe 10-15 Ghost in the Shell episodes put together.

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2-9-06: How bad is it really? UPDATED

"For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost; for the want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail."

-- Benjamin Franklin

-- QuoteDB ["http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/464"]

Dave Winer of scripting.com has a favorite saying something like "It's even worse than it appears." Unfortunately, he's especially right if he applies it to web authoring today. For the further you pursue it, the more intractable and jaw-dropping Gotchas! you encounter.

For instance...

...I personally gave up doing anything truly ambitious on computers roughly 15 years ago, when the Apple Mac platform imploded and fell into the abyss to match the quality of all the other crap out there in the market.

Yes, after that I retreated back to the simplest and hopefully safest refuge of computer use which might still offer some measure of functionality for folks like me: absolutely plain text and bitmap (paint) editing.

Yes, it was quite a long ways to fall after the Mac's glory days when both Microsoft on the low end and Sun on the high end were running scared of all the fabulous power Mac users had at their finger tips. I remember $50,000 and $100,000 workstation vendors giving we corporate IT folks presentations of their wares, and frequently saying stuff like "See? It works just like a Mac!" They were of course desperately comparing the power of their horrendously expensive products to Apple versions which cost only a fraction of their's.

Yes, back then I enjoyed fabulous-- and integrated!-- vector and paint programs, which were so supremely easy to use wonderful images just fell out into your lap in minutes. Learning curves on the software barely qualified as lines at times: in some cases being more like points. For you opened the application, clicked a button, and what you wanted (or better) seemed to almost magically appear on-screen as your hand twitched in playful experimentation. Everything truly was what-you-see-is-what-you-get. It was wonderful. When I was on my Mac back then I was a power to be reckoned with. Heck, every which way you turned there was yet another fabulous Mac application just waiting to congeal around you like a cyborg exoskeleton, to help you slay the metaphorical dragons of your office. Just the More outliner program itself could recast and multiply the sum of your intellect and knowledge in ways to make you feel giddy with power.

But then it all came crashing down. Steve Jobs allowed Bill Gates to seize the entire market with substantially inferior but much lower cost versions of the Mac (Windows PCs), which would do just enough for users to get by-- and thereby did to Apple what Apple had previously done to workstation makers like Sun, Apollo, and others.

And the computer revolution for 'the rest of us' was over. Just like that. Developers had no choice but to flee the suddenly evaporating Mac market for the booming PC field-- plus it was much easier to program for Windows, since its users had much lower expectations of their machines.

So after that I retreated to the plain text and bitmap editing I'd previously done on 8-bit machines like the Commodore 64/128. Yeah, now I was using 32 bit PC hardware and Windows software, which computer magazines everywhere raved were getting faster and displayed more colors. The world made great strides in screensaver technology and access to Solitaire games. But basically I'd personally been brutally slammed backwards in time to functionality little different from my Commodore 64 days.

And yes, I've been bitterly disappointed ever since.

But like Dave often says, "it's even worse than it appears".

Just today I realized even my plain text refuge of last resort doesn't work as it should. And there seems no way to reliably make it do so. Without perhaps moving all the way back to true Commodore 64 wares again. Agh!

Essentially, I discovered there's no way to reliably include an ellipsis ("...") or apostrophes in a web page posted online. Yes, you may want to read that again. It's absolutely true. Grammar as common as contractions is still difficult for the internet to deal with.

And it's not just those types of punctuation. All sorts of items you might need to offer in a posting in order to clearly express yourself in a plain text manner may not appear at all the way you expect to someone on the other end of your message. Different computers, different editing applications, different browsers, different languages, different fonts...any or all of these can radically change the look-- and sometimes apparent meaning-- of what you publish on the net.

Stuff like this not working-- some of the most basic and utterly essential elements of our modern language and communications-- makes me very fearful that we're busily constructing one awful, awful house of cards here, in terms of our software. A global house of cards which wouldn't require much of anything at all to be brought tumbling down. And when I say tumbling down, I mean catastrophic, cascading failures on a scale to astonish heads of state, international bankers, etc., etc., etc. Failures of a magnitude to cause stock market meltdowns and economic depressions. Even in the absence of any other major events. Yikes!

"This is a $7 billion word processing error"

-- Govt. Eyes Error That Cost U.S. Billions - Yahoo! News ["http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/oil_royalty_flub;_ylt=AgbDXzLt.HI_s.NxODuDtuQDW7oF;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl"]

For more on this subject, check out Omens of calamities to come

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1-28-06: Anime film review: Only Yesterday

I personally would classify Only Yesterday as a chick-flick.

I watched it due to having no idea what it might be about, and because some of the previous anime films I saw in January on Turner Classic Movies just plain knocked my socks off.

I was also using the TV to distract me from my exercise routine of the moment: TCM has been showing this anime with no commerical interruptions, which is great for folks on exercise machines.

Only Yesterday is an introspective piece about a grown woman basically 'finding herself', with the help of many lengthy flashbacks to her younger days somewhere around the ages of 10-12 I think.

This is not your usual anime, or even usual feature film. Nobody and nothing here is larger than life, or glorified all out of proportion, such as is the habit of most entertainment media today. Instead, you basically walk in the shoes of this woman's hum drum, average life for a while, as she seeks much the same things we all do: to find out where we belong, and what we should do with our lives.

As has been the case with all the anime I watched on TCM this month (I missed maybe a third to a half the total films shown), the artwork is wonderful. Easily the most entertaining part of the film.

I spent 99% of Only Yesterday wondering where the film was going, and what main point, if any, it would ultimately present the viewer. Now I believe that was intentional on the part of the creators' of the film, in order to fully mimic the uncertainty most of us have at one time or another about our lives in general.

The whole film is basically a very slow and gentle build up to the end/grand finale. The pay off comes in the final couple minutes, and is both satisfying and a relief to anyone watching. I was surprised by the song used at the end, which is I think an American tune, one I liked way back in college. And a very good fit to the ending.

Although I liked Only Yesterday's ending much better than Porco Rosso's, Porco Rosso was much more entertaining during its first 99% stretch.

I think women will appreciate Only Yesterday much more than men. The ending did seem to make the film worthwhile to me at the last-- but without that last two minutes I would have considered the entire thing to have been a monumental waste of my time! Ha, ha. Only Yesterday will drive most men crazy, as they wait for something more typical of modern films to happen (and it never does).

Would I have watched Only Yesterday if I'd known its gist ahead of time? Definitely not. But I'm probably in the male mainstream on this.

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1-22-06: Anime film reviews: My Neighbor Totoro and Porco Rosso

The whole first two-thirds of the film My Neighbor Totoro kept bringing to my mind the same phrase over and over again: absolutely adorable.

This film basically seems to pay homage to the world of small children, and will surely be loved by your own small fry. But it's enchanting and engaging for adults in lots of ways too.

This film is not an epic, nor does it strive to offer up some sort of profound message or moral to viewers. It's more a reminder to grownups about the wonders and joys of childhood they might have forgotten-- as well as the mortality and fragility of same. If you watch this film with your own little ones the both of you will likely be closer in terms of personality and temperament than usual, for the span of the show.

Porco Rosso is an odd film. In all ways but one it's a somewhat fanciful story about sea plane flying pirates and bounty hunters sometime between WWI and WWII I believe. I think the region they're flying is supposed to be within the Mediterranean, but most views of the many islands involved kept reminding me of southeast asia.

Porco Rosso had one jarring element amidst all this: it's central character has been cursed, and turned into a pig. He's the only person in the whole film like this, and the how and why of the curse is never satisfactorily explained. The other people around him either tend to love or hate him, but don't seem too surprised to see a walking talking, plane piloting hog in their midst. At least two or three women in the story seem to like the pig romantically as well.

The curse may have something to do with the primary character being the sole survivor of a major plane battle years before, where he seemed to witness something supernatural in the aftermath. But that's all the film offers you on that point.

The artwork and scenery of course are very pleasing. And the story reasonably interesting. Viewers will find themselves rooting for the flying pig.

Porco Rosso is well worth a single viewing for most of us. But I wouldn't categorize it as a top anime feature. More like an indulgence of its director, that the rest of us might find entertaining the one time.

For pure entertainment value, I'd rate Porco Rosso as roughly twenty to thirty times more satisfying than the average Ghost in the Shell TV episode. And this is despite my really disliking how Porco Rosso ends.

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1-17-06: The dismal state of Machinima today

Wow! What a disappointment!

I've been checking in on the state of the art in Machinima ever since around 2000, when Robert X. Cringely first described how it might eventually provide all of us the opportunity to be our own Spielberg or Pixar studio on the cheap.

Basically Machinima is about letting the rendering engine from a high end video game give life to your own movie script: create the appearances of all the characters, sets, backdrops-- everything! In its ultimate form you might merely insert a detailed script and get back a finished feature film!

Up to now though it's been no cigar. Even for pitiful cobbled together first draft solutions. That is, practical software solutions for aspiring but poor directors and authors in this area have not materialized. Basically because those presently in control of the virtual world algorithms and look up tables don't want to make it easier for others to compete with them in terms of making new video games or computer generated films.

Recent news inspired me to get an update on the status of Machinima for the masses. And once again, it's bleak. So weak it's not even worth going into details. Suffice it to say we have no useful Machinima today. And will have to put off our Spielberg hopes and dreams maybe another six years at least (judging from the fact there's been negligible progress on this front that I can tell since Cringely's original column).

-- Make It 15 Percent Funnier How MPEG-7 Might Change Hollywood Forever ["http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20001214.html"] By Robert X. Cringely, 12-14-2000

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1-16-06: Review: Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex

I believe I've seen all the episodes of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, and many of those from the second too by now.

I've heard Ghost is a big deal in Japan, and maybe among anime fans in general. And there are some interesting elements to the show.

The quality of the artwork is superb-- perhaps cutting edge for a contemporary anime TV series-- as is the background research into a staggering swath of likely near future technology and possibilities, and how they might influence society, which obviously undergirds much of the story line.

The creator(s) also often sprinkle both obscure and not so obscure literary references throughout the dialogue, which surely pleases anyone who'd like to encourage more literacy among our youth-- as well as learn a few interesting leads to maybe look up ourselves sometime in regards to certain subjects.

But so far as pure entertainment goes, the show frequently fails to deliver. Because it's simply way too geeky.

Even for me. Someone who endured quite a few unwelcome aspects to life, basically due to his geekiness from early youth on.

Yes, I really liked the episode which consisted almost totally of the group of giant robot spiders discussing matters of consciousness and philosophy. And was genuinely horrified and apalled when it appeared in another episode a man in a military exoskeleton suit was about the squash the skull of the main woman character in combat with his boot.

But Ghost is a show which pushes you away in terms of engagement, the more of it you see, and the more you learn about its characters.

I don't know if the creators intend to disturb viewers the way they do so much and so often. But the net effect is you lose empathy for the characters who are supposed to be the heroes here. And no, it's not an anti-hero gig where you balance things out by gaining empathy for the bad guys. You just sort of get washed out to a sea of gray, where it seems humanity is steadily losing its soul over time, to become ultimately lost forever. The moorings which connect the individual to everyone else irretrievably broken, and perhaps the civilization as a whole caught in a decline which cannot be reversed. A society sinking in value over time, and therefore likely not worth saving.

Though rapid extinction does indeed seem to be the inevitable fate of technological civilizations in our galaxy-- and the whimpering finale suggested by Ghost may represent one of the gentlest possible (and therefore desirable) ends available to us-- never-the-less I dislike to see such bleak futures extolled this way. It reminds me too much of the first time I heard the lyrics to the theme song for the MASH TV show in college, which essentially dealt with the futility of war:

"Suicide is painless..." is how one line goes, if I'm not mistaken.

I've never seen the film(s) which inspired the Ghost television episodes. So early on I felt sympathy for characters like the major, who apparently suffered some sort of biological defect or injury as a child, which forced her to become ever more cyborg as she grew up.

Only recently did I realize there's apparently no biological portions of her left in her synthetic body. Just a once human consciousness copied over like software into advanced computer hardware.

Like the creator(s) of Ghost, I too have done considerable research into the probabilities and possibilities of future technologies. And from my studies it appears almost certain that the expertise required to keep a human consciousness anywhere near its original biological state inside a wholly artificial platform during the time frame suggested by Ghost will not be available. That is, a mind installed in such a form will suffer permanent changes which will effectively rob them of significant chunks of their humanity and their previous selves. I don't care if they retain all their memories. They will be considerably different after the installation. Different in ways which would qualify as brain damaged circa 2006. Damage possibly similar to that of a stroke or major head injury. Maybe worse.

And such changes would only become bigger over time.

Yes, such changes would be offset somewhat by vastly amplified powers of memory and communications and processing, as seen in Ghost. And a wholly android body would possess sub-processors which could expertly handle for you many of the functions once done by portions of your organic brain, like physical coordination and the like.

But no matter how disciplined or strong of will you were, over time you would lose your ability to care. About anything. Yourself. Others. The world.

The major graphically illustrates this when she realizes the robot spiders are becoming self-aware, independently curious, and wishing to explore and experiment more with the world around them. She orders them to be mind-wiped-- and if that doesn't work, scrapped altogether.

For she sees their changes to something more like a biological human mind as a threat to their usefulness, value, and capabilities.

The major is slowly dying inside-- or else turning into a super toaster. An advanced appliance, which will ultimately require external direction to function.

Now I dislike it when the virtual camera in Ghost zooms in for a close up of the major's face, with her pretty but lifeless eyes.

In my own science fiction novel I begin with a character in the far future who's already reached the end to which the major seems to be headed. A sexless and emotionless but sentient being whose sole goal in life is to fulfill to the best of its ability the job it has been assigned. But at least this entity at its core possesses a neural network modeled to retain certain traces of original biological human patterns in its hardware (the character is Symantici, first described in chapter nine). Traces I'm afraid the major in Ghost does not.

Unusual circumstances force this intelligence into a merger with a true biological human being, and helps to awaken it to the possibilities and types of consciousness only an organic being unlike itself might possess...

But getting back to the entertainment value of Ghost: sure, once every two or three episodes there might be some action involving deadly high tech gadgets; or a vaguely interesting mystery to be solved. But Ghost's creator(s) apparently like to often leave some important plot points only implied (at times very very distantly implied!), for viewers to figure out themselves like working a logic bomb crossword puzzle in the aftermath of an episode. So basically they make you work to figure out what's going on or what just happened, in many cases. Despite 99% of their viewers likely not knowing enough details about the show and its scenario to do so. Now that's pretty geeky if you ask me! Ha, ha. I have an advantage over most viewers in this regard due to my ongoing timeline research-- but even I at times have muttered "Huh?" in response to a Ghost plot point or ending.

So although Ghost is one of the highest quality anime series ever produced-- in almost every aspect-- watching it regularly can sometimes become a little too much like attending a college class.

I've heard some express an opinion that Ghost might draw a young male audience due to the sex appeal of the major. I can only laugh at that: for she's about as lacking in sex appeal as a finely drawn female anime character can get. Indeed, sometimes I wonder how the creator(s) manage to make her so consistently UN-appealing, episode after episode. Plus, people unfamiliar with the show seem not to know the major rarely makes an appearance there. Heck, some episodes like that with the robot spiders discussing philosophy may barely show any people whatsoever during their spans! Ha, ha.

I think non-viewers maybe get the idea the major is a babe attraction for men due to the curvacious way she's drawn, and the seemingly provocative lower body uniform (or lack thereof) she sometimes uses when jumping off skyscrapers in the city. But again, the major only makes significant appearances in maybe a third of the episodes. And even then she's mostly a talking head, like on a Sunday political talk show. Maybe twice or three times has she for a few seconds jumped around rooftops in her custom cut leotards. And in one of those she (or one of her allies?) immediately and graphically shoots the foot off someone they're chasing. So I fail to see how anyone but the most lonely and desperate of teenage boys might find anything about the show intriguing in a sexual sort of way. Indeed, although the show has referred several times to human sexual practices in various ways, it somehow manages to stay about as dry and boring in regards to that as a college chemistry class-- at an all-male college (yuck!). Indeed, if it's sexy scenes you're after, you'll find lots more than Ghost offers in the average television commercial for bath soap.

So for me personally, the only way I'd put Ghost in my top ten favorite TV anime shows would be if I simply had too few shows total to pick from.

Bottomline: It's OK. Maybe average entertainment quality for American TV these days (yikes, but that's a pretty low bar!). Ghost is better than any of those so-called 'reality' shows playing in the states these days. I don't personally go out of my way to watch it. I did that during the first season, simply because it was new to me, and quality artwork has always attracted me. Plus, I am the author of a future timeline web site. But now I only watch it as I happen to catch it. Even I am not nearly geeky enough to be a big fan of the show.

I've always known my novel is likely too geeky for a mainstream audience. But it's nowhere near as geeky as Ghost in the Shell! Ha, ha.

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1-9-06: An amazing view of the present and future of technology, politics, and economics, by Jaron Lanier

Wow! The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers ["http://www.cato-unbound.org/2006/01/09/jaron-lanier/the-gory-antigora/"] by Jaron Lanier (famous computer geek) of January 9th, 2006, is a must-read for anyone curious about what the future might bring, and what some of the thorniest political and technological obstacles to humanity's continued progress might be.

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1-6-06: The anime films Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke

Wow! Last night I saw for the first time the anime films Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. They were apparently shown in their entirety without commercial interruption on the Turner Classic Movies channel.

Spirited Away looks to be something like Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz, only at least a hundred times better than both. The "hundred" figure is not casually used here. I wouldn't be surprised if Spirited Away becomes a TV favorite for American kids to replace showings of those older films, in years to come.

And yes, the artwork is top notch. Heck, the story too. Everything!

It's really rare these days for a film to sweep me off my feet-- that is, to make me forget my own life and circumstances for a lengthy period of time. Spirited Away did that for me. And was pleasingly unpredictable too.

Princess Mononoke was excellent as well-- but suffers a bit in any comparison to Spirited Away due to Mononoke being slightly more mature and real world-based in subject matter. However, both films may present some scary situations to younger viewers-- at least for brief stints.

I did wince several times as the little girl character in Spirited repeatedly fell and slammed into things-- hard-- along the way. Ouch!

Mononoke's artwork, while high caliber, doesn't match the quality of Spirited.

Lastly, I saw both films back to back, with Spirited first, so that too may have colored my judgment here: i.e., I was probably more tired during the screening of the second than the first. But both films are great, and well worth seeing if you're looking for some fresh entertainment. Just be around to calm the fears of ten year olds and younger during showings of the films.

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10-2-05: The world's top ten biggest reasons for optimism

For those readers who consider me far too dark and pessimistic regarding many matters, I offer up The world's top ten biggest reasons for optimism. Have fun!

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9-27-05: The world's top ten biggest secrets and surprises

I present my own list of nominations for The world's top ten biggest secrets and surprises.

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9-27-05: Speculation regarding ABC's TV show LOST

An artificial (and mobile) island

After seeing the 9-21-05 episode of Lost (as well as all which preceded it) I think it's possible the survivors are on an artificial island, or a real one somehow loosed from its original moorings to the sea floor. The island may be capable of self-propulsion (or being pushed or towed by submarine means). And so couldn't reliably be located on any maps.

Such a highly mobile island would also explain the polar bears. Those bears swim significant distances, and so could find themselves stranded upon the island when it moved too far north.

This movement implies the island's climate could change substantially with its movements. Its viable courses would require water sufficiently deep to accommodate its draft.

Like any large vessel, the island might have means of anchoring itself too. Or be anchored by as yet unknown support personnel or devices.

The smoky monster a cloud of microscopic nanotech robots

The smoky monster appears to be clouds of tiny flying nanotechnology machines, as referred to in my novel as "buffer fields" or "third skins", and used in the future to shield and aid both individual people and even entire buildings and vessels.

Note that true clouds of nanotech devices could easily be designed and programmed to repair themselves after any damage-- such as a dynamite blast in their midst.

It could well be that such a blast would have forced such a cloud to release Locke from their grip. For to such tiny devices air would be much like a water medium, with sufficiently powerful acoustic blasts being very effective against the clouds.

It could be the clouds are the main item referred to by the "quarantine" sign on the underside of the hatch.

Why? Because these clouds could conceivably enter the human body to wreak havoc-- or even take control entirely. Possess people. Or at least drive them nuts by messing with their perceptions.

Nanotech is of enormous interest not just to the military, but medicine as well. For you could achieve miracles with nanotech, remedy-wise.

Note the stadium guy now inside the island bunker said he used to be a doctor. So his present job might be as researcher or custodian of the nanotech ware on the island. Or maybe he even created it, and it somehow got away from him...

I should add here that these microscopic forms could also be engineered biologically-- or be living things. But such organic forms wouldn't be quite as robust, useful, and powerful as inorganic ones. They would, however, have the distinct advantage of possibly being much easier and cheaper to make. Eric Drexler even recommended making biological versions of nanotech first I believe, in his book Engines of Creation.

Cloaked observers

The whispering often heard in the island forests could simply be a device to discourage exploration-- or could be conversation among unseen observers on the island, adorned with advanced stealth uniforms.

Such invisibility (or near it) clothing would be at least slightly easier to arrange against a chaotic forest backdrop than the nanotech clouds, technologically speaking.

The nanotech cloud and cloaking technologies are naturally items militaries worldwide are pursuing research-wise, at least in general. And so it'd be very plausible for the entire island to have been created as a testing ground for those and mobile island tech too.

Yeah, it remains to be seen how militarily effective a mobile island as big as this one would be. But aircraft carriers are already dangerously obsolete. If future aircraft are to have any remote bases at all which aren't space-based, some sort of mobile sea island or massive submarine facilities will be required.

As for the massive construction project implied by an artificial island, keep in mind the nanotech clouds could do it easy, given the proper programming, raw materials, and time. Indeed, in theory such entities could disassemble the island and all its contents and re-assemble it elsewhere. Yes, the process might take months or years, but even the people could be transferred that way too, as these nanotech methods wouldn't be that far removed from the station to station transport techniques of Star Trek-- the island version would just take considerably longer.

Resurrection (and Locke de-crippling) by smoky monster

Heck, for that matter, given sufficient reference information, all the survivors we know of today could have died in the plane crash and simply been reassembled by the nanotech clouds, to begin the series.

Giving Locke back the use of his legs could simply have been a small error in the reassembly process.

Or the clouds themselves could have ripped the plane apart in mid air near the island, and relatively gently laid the sections they wanted on the island, insuring a number of survivors. It wouldn't have been any big feat to knock them unconscious. Simple lack of oxygen at that altitude might have done it for them.

The ultimate spies and manipulators

Another thing about nanotech clouds: they could be utterly invisible and undetectable when they wanted to be. By simply spreading out. For they're so small they must be tightly bunched for us to detect them visually or tangibly. They're the ultimate spies. So we could all be surrounded at this moment and never know it.

What if the mysterious number on the hatch, in the military broadcasts, and winning the lottery were basically the top secret designation of the entire island project? And so being closely monitored for worldwide? Lotteries could be rigged to automatically expose whoever used the number to the watchers, for remedial action. The money winnings would be incidental.

From that moment invisible nanotech clouds could be dispatched to manuever such number users into behaviors desired by their masters. Like eventually getting on a plane destined to fly over the island...

As to why they wouldn't just kill them...well, they might want to find out how and where the user learned of the number...

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9-10-05: The awful truth about the American dream

I've been doing research on how people in America truly get rich for a few years now. Partly because like many I'd like to do so too.

But the results haven't been promising. Heck, they're downright alarming and depressing!

For based on everything I can determine so far it appears all but a tiny handful of wealthy Americans get that way either by inheritance, marriage, or crime. Ow!

I hope to find information reducing crime's role in coming weeks and months. But it looks very very bad at the moment.

You can see for yourself by checking How to get rich in America.

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6-29-05: A fellow blogger recently did me the honor of some constructive criticism

Military blogger Albert Linsenmeyer over at Military Thoughts has lately been taking my page The immense risks and appalling costs to humanity of excessive military, intelligence, and security expenditures-- and how to reduce both to task regarding various items listed. Folks who'd like to see a political conservative tackling my site arguments will probably want to see what Albert has to say (I'm assuming Albert is politically conservative from what I've read on his site-- but of course I could be mistaken).

Albert and I don't disagree on everything. Just many things! Ha, ha.

If I can ever dig out of my present huge backlog of work I might return the favor with some responses to Albert's rebuttals. But for now my page will simply have to speak for itself.

Above I gave Albert's general site URL. Sorry for the lack of specific permanent URLs straight to his comments regarding my site in particular, but when I tried to get some they didn't seem to work for me, only directing me back to the main URL instead. It may be that Albert's current blogging software isn't configured for creating permanent URLs of that kind(?) If that changes later I'll try again to provide more specific links.

Thanks Albert!

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4-20-05: Recent US TV: The good, the bad, the ugly

Wow! ABC's Lost hooked me good with the pilot. Then almost lost me about three to six episodes back, when it threatened to turn into another run-of-the-mill 'movie-of-the-week'. But lately it got better again.

Amazingly, Battlestar Galactica is running neck and neck with Lost in pure entertainment quality. The pilot episodes last year were interesting, but the actual series beats those by a mile.

Stargate SG-1 is still a crowd-pleaser, and I love the cast (especially Amanda Tapping! Her tough but brilliant geek persona is world-class). And the show has done an excellent job at staying true to relatively plausible scientific possibilities, and avoiding getting too formulaic in stories. But still it seems to be needing something to shock viewers a little out of their complacency these days...

Stargate Atlantis offers gorgeous visuals and tantalyzing possibilities...but so far seems to be struggling a bit to achieve its maximum potential.

Smallville has hacked itself to death with too much implausibility and too many near-repeat plots. It's also developed way too much of a soap opera feel to it. Where once it topped my personal list, today it looks awfully weak compared to Lost, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, and possibly others.

Poor Enterprise was actually moving up in quality the last season or so-- but that was way too late. They effectively lost much of their natural audience with their first couple seasons. But it may be the Trek franchise is simply exhausted for now, having been milked about as far as it could be the last couple decades now.

At WebFLUX central there no longer appears to be any national news on TV anymore. CNN Headline News is now toast. All the stations claiming to be news channels are basically Fox News and clones, with the apparent mission to shoot down any non-right wing extremist thinking that might come along-- if they mention such stuff at all. Several of the clones are unabashed religious channels posing as news channels. CNBC is now a Republican cheerleader for business subsidies and pyramid schemes no matter the consequences.

Virtually all the 'news organizations' appear now to simply be repeating government announcements and propaganda verbatim-- unless someone somehow manages to stage a significant protest-- at which time they spin it ad nauseum to pound it into our thick heads that it's really all a good thing even if we're too stupid to see it that way. When they aren't parroting the government or corporate line, they're fighting over the scraps of scandalous court proceedings, the latest celebrity gossip, or kidnapped or abused kids.

It's getting really scary in America.

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4-19-05: I once had a car...

Surprise, surprise! In my youth I built and drove an honest-to-goodness supercar. The recent surge in hot rod-related TV shows inspired me to write about it on-site, while the decades of time past made me feel comfortable doing so (check it out to see why I never mentioned this stuff earlier).

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10-29-04: Have we killed enough innocent Muslims yet? UPDATED

Let's just ignore the widespread torture condoned by our top leaders, military brass, and high-priced lawyers. And never mind the innocent Palestinians which get caught in the cross-fire between Israel and its radical opponents-- a cross-fire involving tons of American weapons and $billions in financial backing. Or the innocent Afghanis killed in their own country. I don't have convenient access to those numbers. But it appears we've helped kill around 100,000 innocent Iraqi bystanders since the fall of Saddam Hussein. And the majority of that 100,000 were women and children.

-- Abu Ghraib, Unresolved ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/28/opinion/28thu1.html?ex=1099627200&en=edab5554f85f1b0e&ei=5058&partner=IWON"]; October 28, 2004

-- Pentagon Rewards Generals, Corporations Tied to Abu Ghraib Scandal ["http://newstandardnews.net/content/?action=show_item&itemid=1125"] by Chris Shumway and Brian Dominick; Oct 17, 2004

"Although President Bush's campaign is based almost entirely on his self-proclaimed leadership in that war, his officials have thrown a shroud of secrecy over any information that might let voters assess his performance."

-- A Culture of Cover-Ups ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/26/opinion/26krugman.html?ex=1099454400&en=1fb1b431718e113c&ei=5058&partner=IWON"] By PAUL KRUGMAN October 26, 2004

-- CIA Breaking International Law in Iraq - Independent Media TV ["http://www.independent-media.tv/item.cfm?fmedia_id=9537&fcategory_desc=Under%20Reported"]; October 24, 2004

-- Geneva Conventions Ruled Out for Some Iraq Prisoners ["http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3675539"] By Mark Sage; 26 Oct 2004

-- US 'war on terror' mentality leads to torture: Amnesty ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=1521&e=9&u=/afp/us_rights_torture"]; Oct 29, 2004

-- Amnesty Condemns U.S. for War on Terror Torture ["http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=domesticNews&storyID=6627976"] By Kate Kelland; Oct 27, 2004

-- Amnesty Int'l blasts U.S. over prisoners ["http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/apeurope_story.asp?category=1103&slug=Amnesty%20US%20Prisoners"] By DANIEL WOOLLS; October 27, 2004

-- Amnesty condemns US 'torture tactics'. 27/10/2004. ABC News Online ["http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200410/s1229147.htm"]

-- Palestinians Killed by Israelis at 2˝-Year High ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/02/international/middleeast/02toll.html?ei=5058&en=8a2cdf205c84c4e1&ex=1100062800&partner=IWON&pagewanted=print&position="] By STEVEN ERLANGER; November 2, 2004

-- Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion ["http://www.jhsph.edu/Press_Room/Press_Releases/PR_2004/Burnham_Iraq.html"] by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Columbia University School of Nursing and Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad; October 28, 2004

"...as many as 100,000 more Iraqis - many of them women and children - died since the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq...than would have been expected otherwise, based on the death rate before the war."

-- Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&e=18&u=/ap/iraq_death_toll"] By EMMA ROSS; Oct 29, 2004

-- Civilian death toll in Iraq exceeds 100,000 ["http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99996596"] by Shaoni Bhattacharya; 29 October 04

"Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces...were women and children."

-- Days of Shame ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/01/opinion/01herbert.html?ex=1099976400&en=7778555f6ca209bc&ei=5058&partner=IWON"] By BOB HERBERT; November 1, 2004

-- 100,000 Civilians Died Because of Iraq War, Hopkins Study Says ["http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=a5qWDoyceuDI&refer=us"] ; quote.bloomberg.com

-- Iraq death toll 'soared post-war' ["http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3962969.stm"]; news.bbc.co.uk

-- Iraqi Civilian Deaths Increase Dramatically After Invasion ["http://www.anti-imperialism.net/lai/texte.php?langue=3§ion=BDBF&id=23141"]; anti-imperialism.net

-- U.S. Raids Kill Family of 6 in Rebel-Held Iraqi City ["http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=6556929"] By Yasser Faisal; Oct 20, 2004

-- Flattening the Vote in Falluja ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/27/opinion/27wed1.html?ex=1099540800&en=378cfc8b3a2e4ac2&ei=5058&partner=IWON"]; October 27, 2004

-- Iraq's Prime Minister Faults U.S. Military in Massacre ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/27/international/middleeast/27iraq.html?ex=1099540800&en=31b2f1c8672e1c62&ei=5058&partner=IWON"] By EDWARD WONG; October 27, 2004

-- Yahoo! News - Iraq PM Blames U.S.-Led Forces' 'Neglect' for Massacre ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20041026/wl_nm/iraq_allawi_dc"] By Lin Noueihed; Oct 29, 2004

-- Allawi Blames Ambush on 'Negligence' ["http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=199053"]; Oct 26, 2004

-- More criminal negligence in Iraq ["http://www.motherjones.com/news/blog/2004/10/MB_2004_44.html"] by Jeff Fleischer; October 25, 2004

I wonder how our average kill rate per month compares with Saddam's own terror rampage over the decades he ruled the country? Yikes! Based on the LOWEST number below (208 a week, or 832 a month), we're killing innocent Iraqis at 80% the rate Saddam did while in power. Or nearly as fast as Saddam.

But it gets worse.

Based on the HIGHER estimates below we're killing innocent Iraqis FIVE TIMES FASTER than Saddam himself did!?! If that were true the Iraqis would simply have no choice but to rise up wholesale against us, wouldn't they? I'm sure we Americans would revolt against a foreign occupier killing our own innocents at such a rate. No matter how superior their military was. We'd fight with any means at our disposal-- even hand-to-hand against tanks and helicopter gunships and jet fighters and Terminator cyborgs if we had to. So yes, in that case I can see American resistance fighters easily resorting to tactics of desperation which could get them branded as terrorists by the occupying force and its allies. And that could happen without any involvement at all by foreigners joining in the melee.

-- How Many Iraqis Are Dying? By One Count, 208 in a Week ["http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/19/international/middleeast/19casualties.html?ex=1098849600&en=f7f6c569af5fc09c&ei=5058&partner=IWON"]

"...if Roberts and Burnham are right, the US has already killed a third as many Iraqi civilians in 18 months as Saddam killed in 24 years."

-- US Has Killed 100,000 in Iraq: The Lancet ["http://www.juancole.com/2004_10_01_juancole_archive.html#109902941049326214"]; 10/29/2004; Informed Comment Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion by Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan

But we routinely bring about the questionable deaths of our own too. Over a thousand US troops have died so far in this war which appears to be even less justifiable than Vietnam was. YIKES! And the dead may be the lucky ones. Thousands more have suffered grievous injuries from which they may never make full recoveries. Missing limbs or even chunks of brain or spinal cord don't make for the happiest of futures.

"Since the war started in March 2003, more than 8,000 U.S. troops have been wounded--roughly seven for every death."

-- Fighting the wounds of war ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2027&ncid=2027&e=1&u=/chitribts/20041026/ts_chicagotrib/fightingthewoundsofwar"] By Rick Jervis; Oct 29, 2004; Chicago Tribune

-- Number of US Wounded in Iraq Tops 8,000 ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=542&ncid=718&e=10&u=/ap/20041020/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/iraq_us_wounded_toll"]; Oct 29, 2004

In a similar war in Vietnam we actually remained in the quagmire of our own making until over 50,000 US citizens had died and several times that many had been injured (again, we're talking many cases of missing limbs or chunks of brain or spinal cord).

-- USA is playing into bin Laden's hands By Thomas C Greene; The Register; 20 September 2001

But by golly I guess some Americans feel we're getting even with bin Laden for 9-11-01. Never mind he's still free. Or that even the 9-11 Commission stacked with Bush's own appointees said Iraq's leader had nothing to do with 9-11-- and most certainly the hapless Iraqi citizens themselves did not.

-- Yahoo! News - Three of Four Bush Supporters Still Believe in Iraqi WMD, al Qaeda Ties ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=655&e=6&u=/oneworld/4536965431098444910"] by Jim Lobe, Oct 29, 2004

"In 2003...the U.S. invaded a country that did not threaten us, had not attacked us and did not want war with us, to disarm it of weapons we have since discovered it did not have."

-- Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan in the new book "Where the Right Went Wrong"

-- Yankees are blind to blundering Bush ["http://www.canoe.ca/NewsStand/Columnists/Toronto/Eric_Margolis/2004/10/17/672730.html"] By Eric Margolis; October 17, 2004

So are we happy yet, with 100,000 dead innocents there? No? Well, I guess we'll just have to keep our soldiers over there dying and our planes killing more innocents then...but by the way we might occasionally get a true terrorist with our strikes too-- or at least an Iraqi 'freedom fighter' here and there. Oh wait. Sorry. They're only called freedom fighters if we're currently paying, training, arming, or plain rooting for them-- beyond that they're terrorists. My mistake. Bin Laden was a freedom fighter when our CIA trained and armed and supported him fighting against the Soviets. But now that he's turned our own training and arms against us, he's a terrorist. I wonder just how long the list of such US-trained freedom fighters-turned-terrorists really is. Has anyone looked into it? Could the US someday face an international war crimes trial due to all the thousands of terrorists-- I mean freedom fighters-- we've loosed upon the world since WWII?

If you're a US citizen, have you ever heard of something called the School of the Americas? Apparently that's where for many years we trained the secret police forces and armies of dictators worldwide in exactly how best to torture prisoners, squash internal dissent, and keep their entire populace quaking in totalitarian fear so that their leaders could steal them blind in various ways.

I believe once a small faction of USA citizens began hearing about the School of the Americas financed with our tax dollars the government changed its name and tried to hide it under the rug again. But so far as I know it's still operating as brazenly as before (and circa 2004 it even appears the US government itself has begun behaving the same way it instructs others to).

Here's a question: Why don't we stop training, arming, and funding 'freedom fighters' altogether? That way it seems they'd be far less likely to ever become terrorists plaguing us. Or at least they'd not be quite so good at terrorism if we didn't buy them guns and explosives and teach them how to build bombs and create general mayhem in the first place. Heck, we might not make quite so many enemies worldwide either if we stopped teaching oppressors how to oppress.

Just a thought.

Consider the silent skies. Billions and billions of worlds which definitely support life. But not a single peep to be heard on the radio. All the technological races which preceded us likely trained 'freedom fighters' of their own to hound various internal gadflies-- until finally their entire civilizations were liberated from this plane of existence. Freed via self-inflicted extinction, once their weapons reached sufficient deadly power and accessibility that a freedom fighter-turned-terrorist (or deranged leader of a major power) could wield them too easily.

Have we killed enough of our fellow human beings yet? Do dying children accidentally killed by the 'good guys' thank their lucky stars they weren't purposely done in by the 'bad guys' instead? We can only hope.

-- Iraqi Children Warned to Avoid Soldiers ["http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&ncid=721&e=7&u=/ap/20041022/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_scarred_children"] By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press; Oct 29, 2004

-- Why Are Some American Christians So Bloodthirsty? Understanding Pro-war Christians' Indifference to Civilian Deaths ["http://www.antiwar.com/orig/whitehurst.php?articleid=3842"] by Dr. Teresa Whitehurst; October 23, 2004

-- Korans, Not Kalishnikovs at Madrassas Islamic schools aren't key terrorist breeding grounds, as was previously thought. Their students don't learn the skills jihadis need ["http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/oct2004/nf20041027_5509_db056.htm"] By Stan Crock; OCTOBER 27, 2004; businessweek.com

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10-14-04: In the past I'd usually (but not always) voted Republican. Because I'm basically an Independent with possibly somewhat more conservative elements than liberal. Today I voted a straight Democratic ticket (absentee). Because the US Republican party seems to have put the inmates in control of the asylum UPDATED

No, I didn't directly help the junior Bush get elected in 2000. But indirectly I did. By not voting at all. I wasn't crazy about Gore. I much preferred the Republican McCain, but he got bushwhacked by his own party in the primaries, apparently because he wasn't willing to cow tow enough to the Powers That Be. With McCain out of the picture my second pick was Nader. Yeah, I knew there was no way he could win. If I'd voted for him it would just have been a vote of protest.

So I didn't vote at all in 2000.

I figured with all the checks and balances in the US system it didn't matter much who got in the office in 2000: their damage would be limited. Boy was I wrong. Turns out the US system of checks and balances barely functions if the mainstream media is in the same pockets as most of the elected officials, plus the same party that controls the media controls all three branches of the US government at the same time. And if the very top office holders of all possess little or no ethics whatsoever, or maybe have been brain-damaged by drugs and alcohol or abusive childhoods or sedation gone wrong during major surgery, that doesn't help matters either.

Cheney's seemed a different man in the junior Bush Administration than he was in the senior. I'm afraid he was subtlely brain-damaged by the anesthesia when he had his heart operation, and it changed his personality for the worse. I've seen such damage apparently happen to folks I personally know under similar circumstances. This was a nasty surprise after 2000, as I'd counted on Cheney to be a moderating force on the junior Bush and the more radical elements of the Republican party itself. Instead Cheney proved the opposite. An extremist. He seems to have been the one primarily responsible for us invading Iraq.

The junior Bush of course appears to have abused alcohol and other drugs in his youth, plus been a bit off even before that due to a less than optimal raising as a child-- at least according to various reports I've seen the last few years. And such a person may not choose the best advisors to surround him. Ergo the apalling crew of radicals and (based on public records) outrageous liars around the junior Bush. But the worst may be Karl Rove, who seems to think power is an end in itself, and is literally willing to do anything to gain and keep power and influence. Anything. YIKES!

But what's an opinion without facts to back it up?

To see a miniscule sampling of the thousands upon thousands of supporting references for why I'm voting against the Republicans in 2004, please refer to the following links:

The astonishing decline of America OR How to go from respected sole world superpower to dangerous third world nation in just a couple generations

Through a fortuitous combination of American incompetence, corruption, and apathy, bin Laden is succeeding beyond his wildest dreams

The enormous hidden costs to society of 'right-wing' political governance

More references regarding the Bush Presidency as perhaps the worst ever in US history

The immense risks and appalling costs to humanity of excessive military, intelligence, and security expenditures-- and how to reduce both

The above items each provide many credible third party supporting references-- in some cases hundreds, if not thousands. If only I had the spare time to process them, I've got a backlog of tens of thousands more supporting references for these items I could list.

I had to use an electronic voting machine today. I got no receipt confirming who I voted for. I hate that.

I believe most of the junior Bush's strongest supporters today will by 2008 deeply regret helping him win a second term-- if such a travesty comes to pass.

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10-13-04: The biggest announcement in the history of this site: The novel which started it all is now coming online

Once upon a time there was a novel. A novel so ambitious in scope it required a major research project just to define its boundaries. And what boundaries were those? The ultimate limits of technology and human potential.

Today the results of that research project consist of the Signposts document, which drills so deeply into humanity's future as to touch the ultimate end of the universe itself, and the separate study concerning the Rise and fall of star faring civilizations in our own galaxy.

It took more than a decade for these research efforts to reach the point where the novel responsible for them could be unveiled.

I'm proud to announce the posting of Prologue: Critical mass. The first installment of the new online novel The Chance of a Realtime.

I hope you enjoy it.

Subsequent chapters should follow shortly.

Chance may well be the most thoroughly researched science fiction novel in history, in terms of technology and the likely future course of humanity.

But it's also perhaps overly optimistic. For my research efforts revealed dire threats to humanity's survival and prosperity over coming decades. Threats well exemplified in America's 2000-2004 Bush Administration's horrific behavior both at home and overseas.

Threats which seem to have destroyed every single civilization which preceded us in this galaxy. Threats from within. Governments which fail at their primary purpose: to maintain a healthy balance among the ever competing interests of national defense and security, social health and welfare, commerce, and individual rights, freedoms, and opportunities. Education systems ruined by idealogues. Populations kept in the dark through poor education and excessive secrecy and censorship on the part of government and business. Elected officials sold to the highest bidders. Inadequate safeguards against putting the incompetent or mentally ill in charge of critical responsibilities. Large numbers of citizens disenfranchised from the decision process and benefits of helpful social participation. Environmental catastrophe. Ever worsening proliferation of ever more deadly weapons systems, and looser restrictions on leaders to wield them.

Only the peoples in the developed nations possess the power to possibly prevent human extinction. But at present the vast majority of us seem oblivious to the danger. Indeed, recent history indicates we utterly ignore many important issues until something dramatic or extreme shakes us out of our complacency-- at which point we tend to allow our leaders to pursue the worst possible course of action in response-- so long as that action is painted in the rosiest patriotic or nationalistic or religious terms by those in positions of power and influence.

Unfortunately, a great many dangers approach on quiet cat feet, with no large or particularly alarming events to signal their coming until it's too late. And those in power tend to strengthen the stealth of such mounting threats with secrecy, censorship, and the dissemination of propaganda.

The cosmological forecast is presently 100% chance of obliteration of the human race-- by ourselves. By the same under-estimated, ignored, and ridiculed forces which slew all those before us.

Chances are that no matter how different the now dead races of other worlds were from ourselves, they all followed pretty much the same course we are today towards extinction.

For if any one of them had done something different, our skies would not be so silent.

"...societies, as often as not, aren’t murdered. They commit suicide: they slit their wrists and then, in the course of many decades, stand by passively and watch themselves bleed to death."

"...they weren’t thinking about their biological survival. They were thinking about their cultural survival."

"The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs over adversity."

"...it was out of the question to invest less in churches, to imitate or intermarry with the Inuit, and thereby to face an eternity in Hell just in order to survive another winter on Earth."

"Right up until they starved to death, the Norse never lost sight of what they stood for."

-- THE VANISHING In “Collapse,” Jared Diamond shows how societies destroy themselves. ["http://newyorker.com/critics/books/?050103crbo_books"] by MALCOLM GLADWELL Issue of 2005-01-03; Posted 2004-12-27; newyorker.com

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10-12-04: NEW PAGE ON SITE: The astonishing decline of America

The astonishing decline of America OR How to go from respected sole world superpower to dangerous third world nation in just a couple generations

Note that during this transition period I'm posting some site update news both here and in my new Site updates/alerts log. Eventually site updates will almost exclusively be posted in the Updates/alerts log alone.

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10-7-04: Recommended TV shows

Months back I raved and ranted about my favorite and not-so-favorite TV shows. Here's an update.

ABC's LOST. Absolute personal favorite of the moment. Seen the first three episodes. The first episode was superb. The following episodes have been much more spotty in terms of fun and suspense, but still well worth watching, and the best thing on TV.

I'll be awfully disappointed if the giant monster thing is at all predictable. No King Kong clones please. No dinosaurs or giant lizards please. No giant people please. Even a giant bear wouldn't be very welcome. It's going to be really tough for the show writers to satisfy viewers with the monster unveiling. And whatever it is, it better be something that's deadly, exacts a toll everytime it's encountered, and is tough as hell to drive away or hurt.

Please, please, PLEASE producers do not turn LOST into a sci fi soap opera.

PET PEEVE: ABC did a most underhanded thing in last week's previews for this week's episode. Namely, they tacked on a scene which actually belongs to the FOURTH episode rather than the third. In fact, that scene was the main reason I wanted to see this week's third episode. I waited for it through the entire hour, only to see it belonged instead to NEXT week's episode. GRRR. END PEEVE.

Smallville's had a rough start in the new season. Dropped from favorite must-see number one to maybe number three or four. Some key characters there have simply had far too many brushes with death (and actual deaths in the script) to maintain viewer suspension of belief any longer. Some of them need to die now. Way too much silliness now infecting the plot too. Buffy the Vampire Slayer could get away with such stuff due to its unique style: Smallville is no BTVS.

By the way, I suspect Buffy's going to turn out to have a bigger long term effect than many suspect today, just like classic Star Trek did. But like Trek, it may take ten or twenty years for this to become obvious.

Stargate and Stargate Atlantis occupy the number two and three favorite spots (and not necessarily in that order). Am I satisfied with the Wraith as the biggest bad guys there? Nope! They seem way too wimpy for my tastes. When I read the plot synopsis for SG Atlantis on Ain't-it-cool-news a year before it aired, it sounded absolutely wonderful, and the show has-- so far-- been OK. But the Wraiths are a dissappointment. If Earth people who don't know squat about Ancients' technology can stand toe to toe with the Wraith after the Wraith defeated the Ancients' themselves and have had thousands more years to improve their technology since then (while the Ancient's tech has stood still), something is seriously screwed up somewhere.

About the only plausible way to explain such weirdness is if the Wraiths themselves are some sort of mutated version of the Ancients, due to a plague-like affliction which swept through transforming everyone. Then the Wraiths tech just stagnated in the millennia since due to laziness and no real threat to their dominance. The mutated Ancients' subsequent ignorance of Atlantis could be explained in various ways. But I'll stop with the speculation here. Suffice it to say the SG producers look to have painted themselves into a corner here: I hope they can find a decent exit from their logic and plausibility dilemmas. And hopefully either reveal some new aspect of the Wraiths which made them true superiors to the Ancients war-wise, or replace the Wraiths with more substantial villains.

Looking forward to giving Enterprise another chance this year. The first episode is Friday I think. Fortunately or unfortunately, it's yet another time travel related episode (The ST franchise has just about saturated fans with time travel stuff now: they MUST be choosier about using it any more down the road). The Enterprise writers/producers tried hard last year to improve the series, and it showed. Though it's still nowhere as good as it could be, I have nothing against anyone involved in the effort, and only wish them well. That's NOT to say I won't give up on the show if it sucks.

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